Exhibitors and attendees alike had a Grand Ol' time at the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center during the 10th annual NSCA Systems Integration Expo, held April 29-May 1. Up 7.2% from last year, 9,262 attendees from around the globe came to the show, making 1999 a record-setting year. Attendees, the vast majority of which were systems contractors/integrators, but also included architects, consultants and independent sales reps, came to see more than 500 exhibits of professional audio, video, security, telecommunications, presentations, and other products.

In addition to the exhibits, the NSCA also sponsored more than 400 hours of educational programming. Class tickets sold exceeded 2,500, also up from previous years. Many of the classes sold out during preregistration while other courses filled once attendees arrived at the show.

According to NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson, the event's increasing numbers are closely linked to the quality of exhibits, educational offerings as well as the NSCA University: A Virtual Campus. "The Virtual Campus was new for our 1999 Expo and proved to be a very big draw," he says. "Using a college campus setting, it was designed to demonstrate the reality of what systems contractors are doing today, or full systems integration."

(As reported earlier this year, NSCA will be a sponsor of educational programming at LDI99 in Orlando. During the second annual LDInstitute, which begins on November 15, NSCA will sponsor the second annual "Technical Fundamentals of Audio" course, developed and taught by Ted Uzzle.)

The following is a highly selective look at some of the new products found on the show floor at NSCA:

AKG introduced the WMS 61 (VHF) and WMS 81 (UHF) wireless systems. Designed for houses of worship and other small, lower-budget venues, both systems offer the user 15 selectable frequency settings and can operate as many as 20 or more channels simultaneously in various combinations of frequency sets, depending upon conditions and regulations in local operating environments.

Allen & Heath unveiled the GR8A, dubbed the first eight-channel amplifier on the market, designed for zoning, paging, surround, and background music applications. The two-rack GR8A delivers 60W into 4ohms, and channels can be bridged as required, giving 120W into 8ohms. Features include a monitoring system that allows direct speaker line monitoring of each amp output from a front-panel headphone socket or rear-panel monitor socket, with level matching to the correct headphone sensitivity.

Aphex showed the 1788, an eight-channel remote controlled microphone preamplifier designed for theatre, touring, and remote broadcast. Features include MicLim(TM), a proprietary limiter circuit on the mic output designed to speed setup and eliminate crashes; LeNA(TM), a digitally controlled, low-noise amplifier designed to allow input gain to be adjusted without noise or glitches; and controllability via either MIDI, RS-232, or RS-422.

Audio Technica showed the new PRO 100 Series VHF wireless system, which is designed for live performance and places of worship and is available in four options: guitar, handheld, lavalier, and headworn. All four systems include the PRO-R1 receiver, which features an advanced bipole antenna system for extended operating range, adjustable squelch control, and 1/4" audio output jack.

Audio Toys Inc. (ATI) touted the Paragon II console, a 64-input, automation-ready mixing console featuring up to 20 stereo monitor mixes. Inputs feature high voltage mic preamps, four bands of parametric EQ, and onboard dynamics devices such as a compressor and parametric noise gate.

Community Professional unveiled the R6 low-frequency horn system, designed to complement horn-loaded mid/high systems that normally require multiple direct radiator LF systems. At 250Hz, the R6's dispersion pattern is 110 degrees horizontal by 80 degrees vertical.

Cox Audio showed the new DV-Dosc from L'Acoustics, the creators of V-Dosc. Designed for short, medium, or long throw applications, the DV-Dosc features a low-medium Q active two-way enclosure, 120-degree horizontal coverage, and the company's patented Wavefront Sculpture Technology(R). Cox Audio is the North American distributor of L'Acoustics loudspeakers.

Crown introduced the IQ PIP USP2 module, which features full 24-bit converters plus 24-bit/48kHz processing. An upgrade of the PIP-DSP module, the USP2 features an enhanced graphical interface allowing for onscreen graphical editing of audio filters such as EQ and compression. Users can adjust filter parameters by either dragging "handles" along the displayed filter shape or entering numeric amounts via keyboard. The USP2 also features eight independent, fully adjustable filters per channel. The module can be used with all Crown PIP2-compatible amps.

Denon showed the DCM-500 CD changer, a 100-disk CD changer featuring two independent CD drives for transition from one musical selection to the next, or to provide simultaneous playback for two different zones. Other features include RCA analog and coaxial digital outputs, computer controllability, HDCD decoding, and 24-bit Alpha processing.

Earthworks touted the QTC1 omnidirectional mic, designed for percussion, piano, upright bass, strings, and other instruments, as well as sound effects and sampling use. The QTC1 (quiet time coherent) features a frequency response of 4Hz to 40kHz =/-1dB and has a sensitivity o 30mV/Pa (-30.5 dBV/Pa).

Eastern Acoustic Works unveiled its new MQ Series, comprised of five mid/high loudspeakers and two subwoofers for full-range, permanent installation applications. All mid/high loudspeakers utilize the company's VA4 Technology(R). The five MQ Series mid/high speakers are available with 60-degree by 40-degree, 90-degree by 40-degree, and 60-degree by 60-degree coverage patterns. All have 2" high-frequency compression drivers loaded on constant directivity high-frequency horns, while mid-range sections are available with a choice of one or two 10" cone drivers (except for the 60 x 60 model). Subwoofers are available with either three or four direct radiating 12" woofer cones in a vented enclosure.

At the Group One booth, XTA unveiled the DS800, an eight-input, 32-output self-contained audio distribution system. In standard format, each input is split into two transformer-isolated outputs and two actively balanced outputs. Each input features remote-activated pad, adjustable input gain, mic/line switch, 48V phantom power, five-segment LED metering, and "listen" facility. A headphone output and associated gain control are also provided.

Hafler introduced the C Series of amplifiers, consisting of the CCA (commercial contractor/fixed installations), the CX (cinema/fixed installations), and the LSA (live sound/mobile). Hafler plans to release three models in each series, all based on the same basic amp platform, and all with three power levels (300 x 2, 600 x 2, and 1,200 x 2). Contractor amps will have 70V and 100V line outs for restaurants, bars, retail, etc.; cinema amps will utilize electronic crossovers that can be customized to the install (usually 800Hz); live sound is basic, but with crossovers available. The 300W and 600W units are scheduled for availability in August/September, while the 1,200W is scheduled for late 1999/early 2000.

JBL Professional introduced the latest addition to the EON line of speaker systems, the EON 1500. The 1500 uses a 15", two-way speaker system with a molded one-piece baffle and integral 60-degree x 90-degree constant directivity horn. The EON 1500 also boasts a liquid-cooled, titanium-diaphragm compression driver and JBL's patented SonicGuard(TM) circuitry that protects the driver from overpowering.

Level Control Systems (LCS) introduced its brand-spanking-new Variable Room Acoustics System (VRAS), designed for the electro-acoustic enhancement of architectural spaces. A VRA-16D DSP card is installed in an LD088G, making the LCS SuperNova automated digital mixing/matrixing system VRAS. The VRA-16D employs eight high-speed floating point DSPs to implement the patented 16-channel unitary reverb/delay matrix. The unitary property means that early reflections and reverberation are added without bias toward any frequency range, resulting in a natural-sounding enhancement.

Lectrosonics showed the PT3 protocol translator, a software/hardware package dubbed The Rosetta Stone. Designed to simplify the setup and programming of remote control systems, the PT3 features programmable interface between LecNet(TM) audio components and AMX(R) remote control systems and can act as a MIDI receiver for automatic operation of LecNet devices.

Mackie unveiled its new contractor division, Mackie Industrial, and with it several products geared to the contractor market. The Compact CFX Series of mixers are designed for local and regional touring systems, small-to-medium houses of worship, and small-to-medium theatres. The series consists of the CFX 12, CFX 16, and CFX 20; all three feature a combination of mic/line and stereo line inputs, four sub mixes, and Mackie's proprietary 32-bit EMAC(TM) custom digital effects processor with 16 effects. Each mixer also offers low-noise, low-distortion, nine-band program equalizers.

Martin Audio showed two speakers geared to the theatre market. The Wavefront WT3 is a compact enclosure (28", or 71cm in height) featuring switchable bi/tri-amplified three-way operation, an SPL of 127dB continuous, 133dB peak, and a selection of flying points and hardware for theatre. The Wavefront WT15 is an even tinier speaker (11", or 28cm in height) that is switchable from 4ohms to 16ohms and features Inductively Coupled Transducer Technology (ICT(TM)) designed to avoid HF voice coil burnout.

Meyer Sound featured the new UPM-1P speaker, a self-powered version of the UPM-1. The UPM-1P series is a compact, high-powered system designed for under-balcony, front fill, and small PA applications. Features include two 5" low-frequency cone drivers in a vented enclosure, and a 1" titanium dome on a symmetric horn. Integral amplifiers are built into the enclosure, along with an active crossover, driver protection voltage limiters, and frequency and phase response alignment circuitry. Rear-panel LEDs indicate power and driver thermal limit.

Midas showed the Heritage 2000, a less expensive version of the 3000. All of the features and automation of the 3000 have been retained except for the bus structure, which has been changed to a fixed format suitable for FOH and theatre applications. With 12 group busses, 12 aux busses, three master busses and eight matrix busses, the 2000 is designed for FOH applications. Other features include full automation of all input fader levels and console mutes with the facility to produce left, center, right mixes.

Nexo, which recently opened a US office headed up by Jim Sides, showed the new PS8 loudspeaker, a two-way, 8ohm, passive system designed for use in multimedia applications where high end audio is being installed alongside magnetic field-sensitive video. The PS8 uses Neodymium architecture for the 1" compression driver and the 8" cone driver components in order to eliminate magnetic leakage.

Otari showed the LW10 Lightwinder Concert Series, consisting of the Stage Master (LW-10S) and Console Master (LW-10C), paired components used for transmitting multiple channels of audio information optically, over distances of up to 3,000m, with no signal degradation, since fiber-optic cables are not susceptible to RFI and EMI noise. The LW-10S accepts up to 48 analog inputs, either mic or line, and converts them into a digital signal for transmission. The LW-10C converts the fiber-optic signals back to analog for mixing, and provides 16 returns as well as an optional digital through output. This system was used by sound designer Jon Weston on the recent Broadway revival of On the Town.

QSC Audio debuted its new amplifier line, the CX Series. Three models--the CX302V, CX602V and CX1202V--add direct 70V capability ranging from 250W to 1,000W per channel for distributed audio systems. The CX302, CX502, CX702, CX902, and CX1102 are low-impedance versions ranging in power from 325W to 1,100W per channel at 4ohms (0.05% THD, 20Hz-20kHz). The new CX amplifiers are equipped with several contractor-specific features, including gain controls with 1dB detents for easily repeatable settings, and a custom security cover to prevent accidental or unauthorized adjustment. Active Inrush Limiting eliminates AC inrush current, cutting the need for power sequencers. CXs also include an HD-15 Data Port connector that interfaces with QSControl, QSC's ethernet-based computer control and audio monitoring system.

Renkus-Heinz showed the TRC51, a compact, two-way speaker featuring a multi-angle cabinet design and Renkus-Heinz's Complex Conic Waveguide technology. The series is available in three configurations: the TRC51PS is an active system that comes with a 60W power amp that can operate at either 110V or 220V; the TRC51T includes a 70/100V line-matching transformer with tapes from 3W to 50W; and the TRC51 is a standard system, using a 16ohm woofer, with a 93dB sensitivity and 60W power handling.

Sennheiser showed the new MKE2-4 Gold, a miniature lavalier mic designed to virtually eliminate sweat-out problems caused by lights, makeup, and costumes. The MKE2-4 Gold features a dual diaphragm design whereby the top diaphragm protects the lower one from sweat. Two new acoustic end caps offer frequency response contouring: a short cap adds 2dB at 10kHz while a long cap increases the frequency by 8dB at 10kHz. Removal of the cap ensures a flat frequency response. Sennheiser also unveiled three new infrared systems at the show. The SZI1015T is a two-channel, wide-band, DC-powered infrared system that operates at the higher 2.3/2.9 MHz subcarrier frequencies and is thus immune from interference from the electronic ballast in fluorescent lighting. The SI30 is a medium area modulator/emitter combination that can be connected to audio components via a 1/8" or 1/4" plug. And the SZI30 is a compact, medium-area, DC-powered emitter panel designed to complement the SI30 modulator when large area coverage isn't necessary.

Shure touted the new WL61 Series subminiature, omnidirectional lavalier mics designed for theatre and other applications. Designed by DPA Microphones of Denmark for use with Shure wireless transmitters, the WL61s feature an extended frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz (+/- 2dB), measure less than 1/4" long in diameter, and are just over 1/2" long. All WL61 mics include a pair of interchangeable grilles, which can be removed and cleaned as needed; one is designed for headworn use and provides a 3dB boost between 8-20kHz, and one is for chestworn use with a 10dB boost at 12kHz.

Soundcraft showed the Series Four, a full modular, VCA-equipped console available in 24, 32, 40, and 48 frame sizes, with each having an additional complement of four stereo inputs. For theatrical applications, the Series Four allows for the possibility of adding Showtime(TM) automation, with snapshot control of many console functions, as well as Visual FX and Virtual Dynamics. Visual FX allows integrated snapshot storage of outboard FX settings alongside the control functions, and Virtual Dynamics provides a choice of compressors, gates, expanders, and autopanners to every input, all in storable snapshots.

Telex introduced the ProStar UHF UT-12 universal plug-on transmitter, which allows for the use of any XLR-compatible dynamic and electret-type microphone with Telex's ProStar UHF wireless mic system. RF output is rated at 10-15MW as typical and provides up to 10 hours of performance using alkaline batteries. Connection to the UT-12 is accomplished through a standard three-pin XLR-type female connector. The unit features an audio mute switch, power switch, battery status LED indicator, and screw-type gain adjustment.

TerraSonde showed The Audio Toolbox(TM), a handheld device that provides a wide variety of functions--acoustic analysis, signal generator, level meter/frequency counter, instrument tuner, cable tester, monitor amplifier, and more--in one package. The Toolbox features DSP technology and analog studio stages, a graphical backlit LCD display, encoder input control, built-in microphone, speaker, fully balanced XLR and 1/4" inputs and outputs, unbalanced RCA, and MIDI in and out.

360 Systems unveiled a software upgrade for its Short/cut personal audio editor. Short/cut 99 is a two-track digital audio editor that records to internal hard disk or optional external removable media. The upgrade offers enhanced file interchange options; file formats common to most DAWs are supported, included .WAV, .BWF, and .AIFF. Short/cut 99 will read and generate sound files that can be transferred via the Internet as simple email attachments. Other features include the ability to generate fades and crossfades, perform gain changes within files, synch to external sources, and D-NET echo.

NSCA Expo 2000 will celebrate its 20th anniversary April 29-May 1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information about the NSCA or NSCA Expo 2000, call (800) 446-6722 or visit www.nsca.org.